Holiday Origins

The holiday season is filled with many traditions and celebrations . . .

The origin of Christmas begins with a miraculous birth in the little town of Bethlehem.  Though the actual date remains an historical mystery, it is celebrated on December 25 thanks to a 4th century pope.

In 350 AD, with Rome slowly converting to Christianity from Paganism, Pope Julius I, declared December 25 the official date of Jesus’ birth. The date was cleverly chosen to coincide with pagan festivals of the winter solstice.

Some pagans, for example, celebrated Yule – a dedication to the Sun God Mithras. Yule, means “wheel” – a pagan symbol for the sun. Today, the word Yule, relates to Christmas, or the Christmas season.

Christmas trees are also rooted in pagan tradition. During the harsh winter live evergreen trees were brought into the home as a reminder that the crops would soon grow again.

Those of the Jewish Faith celebrate Hanukkah during this time of year. Also known as the Festival of Lights, it is an 8 day ritual commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Jew’s victory over the Syrians in 165 BC.  In Hebrew, the word Hanukkah means ‘dedication’.

Kwanzaa,  a holiday created in 1966 by Doctor Karenga, a Professor at the California State University, is celebrated by millions of people every year from December 26 to January 1. This non-religious holiday encourages African Americans to remember and embrace their African heritage.

The origin of Santa Claus begins in the 4th century with Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, an ancient town in present day Turkey. Known as a kind and generous man dedicated to the welfare of children, his legend grew to mythical proportions after his death. In Holland, he became known as Sinterklass. Every December 5th, Dutch children leave their wooden shoes by the fireplace and Sinterklass fills them with treats. In the 17th century, Dutch immigrants to Amercia brought a variation of the tradition with them and he became known as Santa Claus.

Boxing day, celebrated on December 26, is a holiday only in the Commonwealth Countries. Its origins date back to the Middle Ages when gifts or “Christmas boxes”, were given to less fortunate members of society.

Whatever your beliefs, and however you decide to celebrate, we wish you a happy and safe holiday.

Remembrance Day Tribute: The Last to Fall

In the late morning hours of November 11, 1918 the 28th North West Battalion, 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade, under heavy German machine gun fire, crossed the Canal du Centre into the Belgian town of Ville-sur-Haine.

The patrol, intent on finding the machine gunner who had harassed them during the crossing, moved toward a row of houses along the canal. They entered the first home, only to discover the Germans had fled out the back. The patrol pursued to the neighboring house, but again, they were too late, the Germans had fled.

A twenty-five year old Canadian soldier stepped out of the house onto the street and was fatally shot in the heart by a German sniper. His name was George Lawrence Price. The time was 10:58 AM, two minutes before the 11:00 AM armistice cease-fire to end the Great War.

Born and raised in Falmouth, Nova Scotia, George Lawrence Price was the last allied soldier to be killed in World War I.  His body was laid to rest at the St Symphorien military cemetery, just southeast of Mons, in Belgium.

In 1968, at the 50th anniversary of his death, surviving members of his battalion erected a plaque near the spot where he fell, which read:

To the memory of 256265 Private George Lawrence Price, 28th North West Battalion, 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Division, killed in action near this spot at 10.58 hours, November 11th, 1918, the last Canadian soldier to die on the Western Front in the First World War. Erected by his comrades, November 11th, 1968.

This November 11, please take a moment to remember all those who have fallen.

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Origins of the Easter Bunny


He lurks in the shadows . . . a fur covered creature . . . with long, sharp teeth, littering the landscape with painted eggs . . .

Like Christmas, Easter is a hybrid of pagan and Christian beliefs. In Christianity, Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of Christ and his ascension into heaven. For Pagans, Easter is a springtime ritual celebrating rebirth and new life, with rabbits (because of their prolific breeding habits) and eggs representing symbols of fertility. In fact, the word ‘Easter’ is derived from ‘Eostre’ the pagan goddess of fertility.

So we see how the rabbit and the eggs came together. But why are the eggs coloured? Precise origins are unknown, but many Eastern Orthodox Christians dye their Easter eggs red to symbolize the blood of Christ, while some pagans will dye their eggs green in honour of the emerging springtime foliage.

The concept of an egg-laying bunny came to North America in the 18th century when German immigrants to the Pennsylvania Dutch area told their children about ‘Osterhas’, or sometimes spelled ‘Oschter Haws’. Oschter means ‘Easter’ in German and ‘Hase’ means ‘hare’, not rabbit, so this Easter ‘Hare’ would bring good children colored eggs and place them in ‘nests’ the children had built in their caps or bonnets.

Happy Easter!

 

A little history on civic holidays across Canada


Across Canada, the first Monday in August is celebrated in many ways.

For a lot of us across this fine nation, the first Monday in August means a long weekend. But what are we celebrating and why does this ‘holiday’ exist? Well, in true Canadian fashion, it’s wonderfully eccentric. There really is no gallant or noble reason for the holiday other than to fill a holiday gap between Canada Day on July 1st, and Labor Day on the first Monday of September. And unlike most holidays, this one varies in name and status across the country.

BC: British Columbia Day (stat)
Alberta: Heritage Day (optional civic holiday)
Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan Day (stat)
Manitoba: Civic Holiday (not a stat)
New Brunswick: New Brunswick Day (stat)
Newfoundland & Labrador:  (not generally observed but is celebrated in St. John’s)
Nova Scotia: Natal Day (not a stat)
Nunavut: Civic Holiday (stat)
NW Territories: Civic Holiday (stat)
Ontario: (stat for federal/municipal governments, but not officially recognized by provincial gov.)
Toronto: Simcoe Day: Named after John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada from 1791 to 1796
Ottawa: Colonel By Day: Named after Lieutenant Colonel John By, who supervised the construction of the
Rideau Canal;  basically founding the city of Ottawa
Prince Edward Island: Natal Day (not a stat)
Quebec: (not generally observed)
Yukon: (not generally observed)

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Duckmen Si and Jase Robertson Offer up a Serving of Turkey Fryer Safety

When it comes to frying up a feathered feast, there may be no better experts than bearded duckmen Si and Jase Robertson. As members of the Duck Commander family, they know how to be safe when frying a bird. That is why they have teamed up with insurer State Farm® to reinforce the importance of turkey fryer and cooking safety this holiday season with a brand-new video titled Hang on a Minute with Jase and Si Robertson.

 

The video captures the importance of turkey frying safety in a humorous yet educational way by cautioning viewers to “hang on a minute and think before you fry.” Regardless if the person frying the bird is experienced or a novice, everyone should take appropriate safety precautions prior to frying. Jase and his uncle Si have been frying turkey for years without incident because they recognize the dangers and take the proper safety measures to reduce their risk of a fire.

Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries.  Based on data from State Farm, more cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. The good news is that State Farm cooking fire claims on Thanksgiving Day have been reduced from 66 claims in 2010 to 29 claims in 2012, the lowest number of claims in a decade.

While the reduction is significant, the fact remains there are still injuries and damage to property as a result of turkey frying or cooking fires each year. November is the number one month for grease and cooking related fire and December is the second highest month.

According to State Farm Insurance claims data, the top states for grease and cooking-related claims on Thanksgiving Day (2005-2012) are:

Texas 38
Illinois 27
Pennsylvania 23
Ohio 23
New York 22
South Carolina 16
Georgia 16

*Largest increase in State Farm cooking fire claims on Thanksgiving Day from 2011 to 2012 was in Georgia, which jumped from 1 claim to 4 claims|

Minnesota 15
Michigan 15
California 14

**Largest decrease in State Farm cooking fire claims on Thanksgiving Day from 2011 to 2012 was in California, which fell from 6 claims to 0 claims|

Indiana 14
Louisiana 14
Florida 14

 

Most turkey fryer and cooking fires are preventable. Recognizing common mistakes is a critical step in reducing your risk of a fire or potentially fatal burns. Before you break out your bird this holiday season, remember to hang on a minute and do it right.

Cooking Safety Tips

  • The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. It’s important to be alert to prevent cooking fires.
  • Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
  • Keep an extinguisher approved for cooking or grease fire nearby.

Turkey Fryer Safety Tips

  • More than one-third of fires involving a fryer start in a garage or patio. Cook outdoors at a safe distance from any buildings or trees and keep the fryer off any wooden structures, such as a deck or patio.
  • Avoid a hot oil spill over by first filling the pot with cold oil and then lower the thawed turkey into the pot to determine how much oil should be either added or removed.
  • Shut off the fuel source or flame when adding the turkey to the hot oil to prevent a dangerous flare-up if oil does spill over the rim.
  • Make sure your turkey is properly thawed before lowering it slowly into the pot.
  • Never leave a hot turkey fryer unattended.
  • Do not use ice or water to cool down oil or extinguish an oil fire.
  • Keep an extinguisher approved for cooking or grease fire nearby.

About State Farm:
State Farm and its affiliates are the largest provider of car insurance in the U.S. and is a leading insurer in Canada. In addition to providing auto insurance quotes, their 18,000 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve 81 million policies and accounts – more than 79 million auto, home, life and health policies in the United States and Canada, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is also available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 44 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies.

For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com or in Canada http://www.statefarm.ca.

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